Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Dump Disney and let Little Sally watch Freddy instead

No, really.

Hear me out.

Most of us are familiar with the Scream Queen archetype, most embodied by Jamie Lee Curtis in the Halloween series.

Beautiful, perfect body, big boobs.  Strong.  Smart.  Maybe her character wasn’t as smart as the girl watching the film wondering why she’s “always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door,” but I think if you stay with me, you’ll find that women are often portrayed as positive role models in the horror genre.  At least as much as Disney’s princesses (or Dreamworks, as it were) and perhaps even more.

Now, I’ve read plenty about the misogynistic treatment of women in horror films.  As my favorite fiction movie genre, I’ve watched my fair share, as well.  The first person to get killed is often a young woman, usually one engaging in sexual behavior.  “Those are the rules,” right?

I don’t necessarily disagree with that analysis.  But, if I’m going to compare movie genres, I think horror films do a lot to empower women as well.

Clarice, Jodie Foster’s character in The Silence of the Lambs is smart, interesting and intimately involved in the mind of her adversary.  She meets the fear of Hannibal Lecter head on.  She has a voice.  She is his equal.  She is not the weak, timid female screaming her head off the entire movie.

I think my biggest complaint about TSofL is that Clarice is basically ungendered (as far as horror flicks go.)  It isn’t until the sequel that she becomes sexy and the relationship between Lecter and Clarice changes significantly, and in my opinion, is directly related to the change in actress.  Foster wasn’t interested in that relationship change and so Julianne Moore was cast as her replacement.

In one of my favorite remakes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) I think we get all the awesome things about having a strong heroine who saves the day, all the while providing the gratuitous wet t-shirtencasedbouncingbreasts.   She can hot wire a car, jimmy a rusty lock and out-run the monster…and has the guts to off her friend so he won’t suffer.  She’s a badass.  The choice of Jessica Biel to play Erin was a good one.  She’s not a serious enough actor to look foolish in a campy horror flick, but established enough to make it reasonable.   I also note, she breaks the rules.  While she’s anti-drug, basically furious at the boys’ decision to bring back pot from Mexico, it is certainly insinuated that she and Kemper are getting it on.


Compare this to Ariel, Aurora, Snow White and the rest who all need a guy to rescue them and are resigned to the role of house keeper more often than savior, I’d say that you’re more likely to redefine gender roles for your little ones by letting them watch a few slasher films than by inundating them with Disney princess stereotypes.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

Posted in atheism

9 Responses

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  1. I agree with you about the Disney princesses. In fact as a kid I was never allowed to watch those films. So when I had a girl I naturally got her some of the movies. I find them pretty sickening. However there are some good kid movies out there, and Disney is doing a better job lately. She loves Shrek, and princess Fiona was totally kick ass, taking out the ‘merry men’! Also I was happy with Princess and the Frog that portrayed a strong woman that achieved her goal, by working hard, rather than a man stepping in to save her.

    I think these things we let our kids watch and think about do have an impact. It is not cool to teach girls that they can not do the same things as boys, or that they NEED a man to do things for them. All kids need to learn to be self reliant in my opinion. Teaching girls they can’t does a dis- service. I listen as my mom complains about all the things my dad ‘refuses’ to do for her, like tighten screws, put gas in the car, paint a spot, etc. It just makes me wonder why she can’t grab a paintbrush or a screwdriver. I suppose that generation was just brought up differently…


    December 17, 2010 at 1:29 am

  2. Generally, the top influences on children are parents (caregiver), peers, media, religion and school…not necessarily in that order. Media reinforces social mores seen at home or at school or in the social environment around kids. If those things are the opposite of what the child is seeing in their media choices, there’s a great chance that the media influence will be counteracted.


    November 16, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    • That must be what explains my children, then. :o)


      November 17, 2010 at 1:50 am

  3. And yet my Disney-Princess obsessed (in her formative years) daughter can climb a tree in a prom gown and it’s never occurred to her to rely on a boy to do something she can do perfectly well herself.


    November 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    • I wouldn’t expect anything less from your kid. That doesn’t mean the influence isn’t there, nor does it negate their over reaching ability to mold ideas about gender. You know as well as I do that exceptions do not disprove a rule. I’m one of the most girly girls I know. I can change the oil in my car, too. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been inundated with wacked out gender stereotypes. I often question my reasons for doing things related to my sex. I would hope that Disney wouldn’t be raising our children, without any other influences. How they turn out is very dependent on what those other influences are.


      November 16, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    • Also, do you like your critter today?


      November 16, 2010 at 11:17 pm

      • I liked him fine the other day, I was just speculating on what he was.

        I don’t know. I still have a hard time relating to the idea that movies and media should have a bearing on life outside them in this sort of manner. But it is very true of me in general that when I don’t understand how something relates, I don’t see how anyone else relates to it, either. Even though on another level, I know that they do.


        November 16, 2010 at 11:43 pm

  4. Ah, Alien is a great example!

    Nightmare on Elm Street (referenced but not discussed) is another one I like.

    On the other hand, just saw Predators and that was a total disappointment both cinematically (is that a word?) and sociologically.


    November 16, 2010 at 4:40 pm

  5. Actually, my husband just showed the movie Alien to our three boys (the youngest of whom is 5). This is what what happens when mommy gets “way” time. When it comes to horror movie heroines, Ripley totally rocks. She’s super bad-ass, she’s a total bitch, fairly sexy, and is (almost) the sole survivor at the end of the movie.

    The most believable transition from traditional female ditz to horror movie bad-ass, I think, would have to be Sarah Conner from The Terminator. From a meek waitress to a gun slinging cyborg killer. And you get to see why she changes in this way. The pretty lady routine couldn’t possibly keep her alive for long, so she had to adapt.

    The Disney Princesses? Don’t even get me started on them. Thankfully, I have all boys, and they’ve shown zero interest in the princess culture.


    November 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

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